Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Saturday was perhaps the most nerve-wracking day of my life (so far). 

For those who might not know, I ran for re-election to my tribal government (the Huu-ay-aht First Nations) and I was fortunate to keep the trust of the people and be re-elected to our inaugural post-treaty government. I had a lot of help along the way, especially by that of my family and my very significant other, Crystal. 

In the next four years, I hope to underline the importance of earning the trust of our people by showing them them that government isn't neccessarily a barrier to getting things done, that their elected representatives can be trusted to not only do their work but show their work and that there is, in deed as well as in word, hope for the future. 

There will be a lot of work ahead, but I am eager to sit down with my colleagues and plan our strategy for accomplishing the dreams of our ancestors and giving our future generations a world better than it was when we inherited it. 

I am a man of high ideals, perhaps focused too much on the larger ideas and the bigger picture. I am a dreamer, though I have learned much of the responsibility inherent in democratic representation. I see our community as a group of people before all other things, and as a result, I must weigh the effect a policy or decision will have on people with my own attitudes, values and beliefs. 

I think we have a good balance of people in government and in the administration to check my top-down and ideological tendancies. I think I have much to offer and much to learn from those around me. If we remain focused on the good of the people and the best interests of the Huu-ay-aht First Nations as a whole, then I think we can accomplish good, maybe even great, things. 

"We'll see," says the Zen Master... (Charlie Wilson's War)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Position Paper #3 - The Government Needs to Help Give People Hope

    In past writings, I've written about what I think we need to do as a community to improve our politics or our economic situation. Now, I write about the point of doing these two things. I'll start with a quick story about Canada and the United States, because I think it's closely related to what I'm about to write.

Standing Tall
Governments and Communities Have To Stand For Something

    Every country has a collection of sayings that represent the values of that country. For example, the translated motto of the Republic of France is "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity (Brotherhood)." In Canada, our motto is less inspiring: "From sea to sea." We have another saying that I think describes us perfectly as Canadians: "Peace, order and good government." These words are very different when compared to what I think describes the values of the United States: "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

    When the United States was created, there was some debate about what the stated values were going to be. Some wanted "Life, liberty and private property" because they believed that it was private property was one of the core values that made up the best route to having a successful community. Others disagreed and suggested that "private property" be replaced with "the pursuit of happiness." I think this was a very good decision, but I'll explain that soon.

    Contrasted with the USA, Canada was created when the Americans were in the midst of the Civil War. Canadian leaders looked south and saw a country torn apart by disagreements so fundamental that it scared them to think that a people so similar could do that to one another. This was frightening to Canadian leaders at the time because Canada was much more diverse than then United States. We not only had English-speaking people, but French and native people as well. They asked "How could Canada survive in a world when a united people such as the Americans could divide and kill each other?" As a result, Canada was created on the principles of "Peace, order and good government."

    Now, say what you will about how things are now, but I think that the United States was created on a better set of values than that of Canada. I think it evokes more passion and more hope in people to read the words "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" than it does them to read "Peace, order and good government." This is not to say that I dislike Canada, I think we became one of the best countries to live in despite our uninspiring founding principles, not because of them.

    So, that brings me to the point of this essay, what are the founding principles of the Huu-ay-aht First Nations?

    For the Huu-ay-aht First Nations, the first day of April 2011 was a rebirth. As a community, the People of the Huu-ay-aht First Nations have pursued treaty for the sole purpose of improving their lives. We have taken control of our collective destiny in order to help make our individual lives better by working together and making wise decisions that will help as many of our people as possible.

    By pursuing a treaty, we have successfully gained for ourselves a measure of liberty that we had not possessed before. The treaty acts as a means to protect our community and our people as a whole from the neglect of the Crown and (sometimes) the ill treatment of those it governs. In this way, "Liberty" means the freedom from something bad rather than the freedom to something good. We have a treaty to protect our historic and rightful place in Canada from those who would take it away and to allow our community to act in its own interest.

    In essence, I think our Nation is founded on the principle of Liberty. The only thing we ever wanted was to be free to make our own decisions, to be free from the dependence of our People on the Crown. We want to be free from interference by groups and people who don't care enough about us or the things we value. This is Liberty, the freedom from neglect, interference and repression.


    Ours is a diverse people. Unlike other communities, we are known as the Huu-ay-aht First Nations. Nations. Plural. We are a collection of peoples, diverse and distinct, but still united in a common history and a common purpose. We must base our community on the principle of Unity. The idea that we remain united and speak as one despite the time and distance that separates us.

    This is important because we share a common origin, a common history and now a common purpose because we don't necessarily share a common place in time and space. More than eighty percent of our people live away from our territory, but we must believe and understand that distance does not matter when it comes to being Huu-ay-aht. No matter where you are, you're still Huu-ay-aht.

    If our community is united in a common purpose built on the foundation of a common origin, then the separations of time and space should not matter. Everyone has something to offer no matter who they are or where they live. When we are inclusive of all voices, we are a stronger community. In that unity, we can achieve truly great things.

Liberty, Unity and Hope.

    When things are hard, when our lives don't go the way we planned, how do we carry on? One simple word: hope. Often overused, sometimes treated as a joke, hope matters. Without a sense of hope, people can be driven to do very bad things; or worse yet, nothing at all.

    If we focus on all of the bad things that have happened to our Nation and each of our People, it would be easy to understand why we would have given up. But the amazing fact is that we didn't give up. We kept going, we survived and went on to improve our lives in so many ways. We were able to keep going because we had reason to keep hope alive.

    When I was young, I was often frightened by the possibility of failure and being branded a loser. It's a terrible thing, being thought of as a loser. No one wants to be associated with failure. So, it becomes harder and harder for someone to work their way out of that without a reason for hope. If you lose hope for your life, it's very hard to gain it back but it's often the only way to stay motivated enough to turn things around.

    In the past, it would have been very easy to give up on the Huu-ay-aht First Nations. We could have thrown up our hands and decided that we didn't have to call ourselves Huu-ay-aht. We could have nodded quietly to ourselves, doused that fire and headed for the exit. But we didn't. We had hope for the future.

    We need to keep that hope alive. As a government, we need to ensure that our people have the freedom to hope for the future. To do that, we need to keep going no matter the hardship and we need to keep that vision of a better life in our mind's eye. Building a better life takes planning, discipline and hard work, but in order for people to be able to get out of bed every day and work hard, they need hope for the future.

Liberty, Unity and Hope.

    When people trust their government, they have more reason to hope for the future. When people believe in the vision and ability of the government, they have more reason to hope for the future. When people believe that they have a fair shot at making a better life for themselves and their loved ones, they have more reason to hope for the future. When people have the time and resources to pursue things that make them happy, they have more reason to hope for the future.

    When people are convinced that all it takes to make life better is getting out of bed and doing it, then the Nation and our government has reason to hope for the future.

    I believe that we can do all of these things. I believe that we can achieve the dreams of our ancestors and give future generations a better world to live in. I believe that our government needs to earn the trust of the people to effectively use our newly-won liberty. I believe that we need to remain united in a common purpose for all Huu-ay-aht, not matter who or where they are. I believe that we have reason to hope for the future, but I think we need to do more to further convince our people that the future is, indeed, a bright one.


Re-Elect John Alan Jack to Council.
Klecko, klecko. (Thank you, thank you.)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Position Paper #2 - The Government Needs to Create Opportunities

New Opportunities for a New Era 

    With the Huu-ay-aht First Nations having successfully negotiated the Maa-nulth Final Agreement and in the midst of successfully implementing that treaty, one of the most important factors that will determine our overall success as a Nation will be how we manage our economic policies. Gone are the days where it was expected that we merely get our people from pay-cheque to pay-cheque. Our People need to make a living. They need careers that they can plan their lives around. In this past term of office, I have worked with my colleagues in government, the administration and our advisors to forge a new way to take advantage of the new opportunities afforded to us through the treaty.

    For a government, the trick of successfully managing economic policy is to balance helping our people to be successful with staying out of their way when they have things figured out for themselves. Everyone knows the parable of teaching the hungry man to fish, but as I've said before, saying it and doing it are very different things. Our government has to do two things: (1) it has to ensure that there are economic opportunities for our People and our Nation as a whole and (2) it has to ensure that there are proven methods for our People and our Nation to benefit from those economic opportunities.

It's All About Creating Opportunity

    The key to independence is being able to do things for oneself. This is a truth that all youth find out for themselves and it's something that applies to groups like the Huu-ay-aht First Nations, too. When you're able to make decisions for yourself and act upon them, then you're truly free to do what you want with your life. Having been granted self-government and enough authority over our resources to do something about it, it is the job of government to ensure that our People and our Nation have the opportunity to make real improvement in our standards of living.

    Some time ago, the Huu-ay-aht government embarked upon a program of creating businesses for income and jobs. With businesses such as the forestry company, we accessed the value in our traditional lands without  yet having control over them. Now, we have control over a substantial portion of our traditional territory; enough that we can now unlock the value in our lands and resources in such a way to help make the lives of our people better. This is the key to our economic salvation, this is the way by which we make our lives better, we must ensure that we have the full benefit of our lands and resources like it's enjoyed in the rest of this country.

    For the government, it's a balancing act. We have to seek harmony between creating job and career opportunities for our people with protecting our resources from total depletion. In addition to that, we have manage our businesses in such a way that we can access profit. So, our government needs to make decisions that give everyone the potential to access the value in our land and from our resources.

    This cannot be, and has not been, restricted solely to our own businesses through the Huu-ay-aht Development Corporation, it has to be accessible by individuals willing to take the risk on their own ventures. We need to ensure that business interests from around Canada and the world at large can come in and strike up partnerships with the Nation, its companies and interests of individual Huu-ay-aht. We can no longer afford to hold the world at the borders of our territory, in order to succeed economically, the government needs to be open to opportunities put forward by anyone.

It's About Ensuring Equal Opportunity through Equal Access to Education
    I have long held the belief that the vast majority of our people only need two things to succeed: (1) the chance to succeed and (2) the tools to do it. As a government, we can give them the chance to succeed by creating laws and making decisions that allow for people to work for themselves. As a government, we can give them the tools to succeed. Those tools should be familiar: comprehensive education for our children and youth, training opportunities for everyone and accurate and timely information for our people to make their own decisions in the market so they can work.

    There are two types of work: jobs and careers. Jobs are often temporary and get you a life of pay-cheque to pay-cheque. It's not all bad, though, since this is where we all start out in our youth. It's a learning process, we need jobs to learn what it takes to have longer term employment. Careers are less temporary and they are something that people can plan their lives around. Creating careers should be the goal of our Nation and all of our People. Jobs make rent, careers make lives. But earning a career requires planning and perseverence in the face of inevitable setbacks.

    If we imagine our working lives as some sort of race, then jobs are sprints and careers are cross-country marathons. We still need to help prepare our people for bi-weekly sprints, but we need to focus on equipping our people with the discipline and fortitude to run that marathon. As with most things, it all starts with knowledge. Success in primary school and secondary school should be the first priority of a government that concerns itself with the success of our future generations.  We need our youth to graduate and then we need them to seek out the skills needed to move toward a career by seeking out more education or trades training.

    By focusing on education and training, everyone will have the same chance at making their lives better. Individual lifepaths will be very different, but if we can prepare our people for the trials and challenges of the long road ahead then our community can only benefit from that.

Business-Friendly Policies Create Jobs, Careers and Improve Lives

    In this era of independence, the Huu-ay-aht First Nations created the Huu-ay-aht Development Corporation (HDC), an arm's length company that oversees the business operations owned by the Nation. It was set up to ensure that the decisions it makes are strictly business-oriented. It was created to eliminate harmful practices like nepotism (favouring family and friends over other citizens) and keep purely political decisions from affecting the profitability of our businesses.

    When our businesses are successful, they provide income to our Nation that can be used to fund health, education and other programs vital to preparing our People for success. Providing income is their first function, the job and career opportunities come as a part of any business activity on our lands. We need to attract businesses to our land in order to create jobs and career opportunities for our People.

    We need to invest in our people so they have the same chances that everyone else has in this country. If we do our job right, we won't have to have job quotas for our People. They'll be qualified for jobs and able to earn career positions on their own merit. Of course, this will take time and we can enact policies to help give our people a leg up, and there should also be programs to help people who have fallen on hard times, but those programs must be oriented in such a way to get people back on their feet and able to help themselves.

    Only when I'm able to do things for myself am I truly free. I may stumble, I may fall, and I may need help getting up from time to time. But in the end, I have to be the one to learn from my mistakes and keep going.

    This is what was taught to me by my parents and my grandparents. The challenges we face now are ultimately no different than the challenges our ancestors faced decades, generations, centuries ago. Our people worked. They worked hard. We have inherited the fruits of their hard work. Now, we owe it to future generations to take what our ancestors left us and make our lives better.


Re-Elect John Alan Jack to Council. 

Klecko, klecko.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Position Paper #1 - The Government Needs to Build Trust

A New Government for a New Day

    The Huu-ay-aht First Nations will be governed by a group of seven people. The Chief-Councillor is elected separately and acts as the head of government. He or she assigns portfolios, respresents the HFN to the rest of the world and sets the agenda for the coming year. The Members of Council are assigned portfolios based on various areas of responsibility: finance, economic development, citizenship, treaty implementation, health, education, forestry, fisheries, lands and so on. Then, all Members of Council work with each other, the administration and the people to make policy and other political decisions about how the Huu-ay-aht First Nations runs.

An Issue of Trust

    Before the Effective Date of the Treaty, the government had to abide by rules set out in the Indian Act. This is no longer the case. The HFN has established its own law and policy based on a long period of development that involved the people at all stages. It should go without saying that our government will be more effective at making better decisions for the people it serves, but I must say that this may not yet be the case.

    I think our people have experienced disappointment at the political level for a long time due to various reasons. While I believe that the future will be much brighter, I think it's important that our government shows the people that it can be trusted with the new authorities that it has been granted through the treaty. So what can we do?

We Need to Show Our Work

    The government has to work hard, and I have some ideas. I think our government needs to be more accessible to the people. We can do that in three ways: (1) regular office hours for Members of Council to meet with citizens, (2) compulsory question periods for Members of Council at the People's Assembly and (3) rotating regional portfolios.

1.    All members of our government should be available for face-to-face meetings with the people they serve. To do this, I think we need to go beyond newspaper articles, website entries and community meetings. I think our government needs to make themselves availabe at regular times every week in both Anacla and Port Alberni (to start). During this time,  Members of Council will make themselves available at either of our offices to answer questions and receive input for any citizen who takes the time out of their day to meet with his or her representative.

2.    In addition, I think it should be mandatory for everyone in government to not only speak, but to take direct questions from citizens at every People's Assembly held. Having compulsory "question periods" will do a lot to ensure that all Members of Council know their portfolios and can show that they've added value the community.

3.    For too long, Huu-ay-aht from every community have felt as though they have not been represented by their government. Our election law allows for everyone to cast their vote, but I don't think that necessarily means that everyone gets to have their input. If we assign a Member of Council to represent our people in Anacla/TSL, Port Alberni, Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland and Beyond, then we can better ensure that every voice from every place can be heard. These assignments would be rotated every year so that each Member of Council has experience with as many communities as possible.

We Need to Work Harder Than Ever

    Linked to these ideas is another. In the past, portfolios were held by one person for the entire term of office. This allowed for consistency, but I think there's a better way. I think major portfolios should be assigned to two people: a senior Chairperson who holds the position as long as the Chief-Councillor wishes and a junior Vice-Chairperson who would serve for one year before being assigned to another portfolio.

    Assigning two Members of Council to each major portfolio would ensure that everyone in government has a deeper understanding of all facets of the government. This way, each Member of Council would be a teacher and a student. This way, we retain the consistency of a long-term assignment and allow for new ideas at the same time. In addition, this ensures a measure of supervision of each Councillor by his or her peers. Finally, it allows for work to continue when the senior Councillor is unavailable due to sickness, emergency or a scheduling overlap.

Building Trust and Building a Nation

    When the government works hard and can show it, I think our people will come to trust it. If we can earn their trust, then we're that much closer to creating a community based in hope and opportunity for all. But it starts with trust, and I think this a good way to earn it.


Re-Elect John Alan Jack to Council

Klecko, klecko.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Re-Elect John Alan Jack to Council

Re-Elect John Alan Jack to

Huu-ay-aht First Nations Council

An Introduction

            Hello, my name is John Alan Jack and I'm running to be re-elected to the Huu-ay-aht First Nations Council. My parents are David McIvor and the late Sandy Gallagher (Jack). My grandparents on my mother's side are Ernest Jack and the late Shirley Jack (Chester). I have two younger brothers, Richard and Jackson, and almost all of my family lives on the Island.

            I grew up in the Parksville-Qualicum area. My grandfather and his family relocated there in 1969, and it is there that my mother met my father. I was lucky to have a loving and dedicated family where I had the good fortune to go on and do them proud by attending and graduating from university. In 2004, I earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree with Distinction in the field of Global Studies, which is a combination of politics and economics from an international point of view. I started to work with the Huu-ay-aht First Nations in the development of the Huu-ay-aht Constitution, the law that protects our rights and establishes our responsibilities as Huu-ay-aht citizens.

            From there, I became more involved with the Huu-ay-aht. In fact, I followed in my mother's foot-steps by working for the Nation in pursuit of treaty. Before I was first elected to Council, I held staff positions such as Enrolment Coordinator, Assistant to Chief & Council and Communications Coordinator as well as being an active member of the Governance Committee.

My Experience and Accomplishments

            Since being elected to serve on Council in June 2009, I have been assigned the portfolios of Finance, Economic Development and Communications. In addition to these important duties, I was still involved in treaty-related activities through the Governance Committee and continued attendance at treaty meetings between the HFN, the provincial and federal governments and other Maa-nulth nations where we worked together to get to the Effective Date.

            As Chair of Finance, I oversaw the successful test-run of the strict new law created to ensure that we manage Huu-ay-aht public money in an efficient, transparent and accountable manner. Through the Huu-ay-aht Financial Administration Act, the government was able to create and publish a comprehensive three year strategic plan that set out our budgetary priorities and follow through in a detailed and accountable budget. This has allowed us to hit the ground running when it came to managing our finances after the Effective Date of the Maa-nulth Treaty.

            As Chair of Economic Development, I worked with my colleagues to do things that are fundamental to success in business. In addition to work on development projects, we consulted with the people and created a robust strategic plan that would guide us in future projects. Then, we created the Huu-ay-aht Development Corporation: a company owned by the HFN but run as a business. By removing ever-changing politics from business decisions, we enable our companies to be more successful through better management decisions and greater profits. When our businesses are run well and run successfully, we will have more revenue to the HFN and our people will have a greater chance at having careers that can last a lifetime rather than jobs that can often be temporary.

My Approach and Priorities

            Now that we are self-governing, now that we have control over natural resources and now that we have the money to make a real difference in the lives of the people we serve, it is my belief that our government should make the best decisions for the good of all Huu-ay-aht no matter who they are or where they live. First and foremost, the Huu-ay-aht First Nations is a community of people. If we are to succeed as a community, we must do what we can to give our people a real shot at making their lives better. This requires honest, open, and informed decision-making. We need to be able to make hard choices for the good of the community and we need to carry out our decisions to the best of our abilities.

            Following this line of thought, it is my strong belief that our people are our greatest asset, especially our youth. While we do have successful business operations and other sources of revenue, these all fall short when compared to the potential we have within ourselves. Just as we need to unlock the value in our land and resources, we need to unlock the value within each of us.

            To do this, we must have a comprehensive approach to education that ensures that our children and youth have the same opportunities for success that any other person has in Canada. As a Member of Council, I would push for increased education spending that would not only fund university degrees but accredited trades as well. In addition, I would seek new opportunities to improve basic education for students on our lands that involve parents and grandparents in the process with the ultimate goal of increasing the number of students going on to pursue post-secondary education and training.

Re-Elect John Alan Jack to Council

            Having been on staff and in government, I have become familiar with all facets of the Huu-ay-aht First Nations. In my time with the Nation, I have developed a passion for this community and its people. And it is in the Nation that I find the center of my life, my driving force. I seek the honour of representing you, the people of the Huu-ay-aht First Nations, and it is to you that I promise that I will work to ensure that this treaty improves the lives of all Huu-ay-aht.


Klecko, klecko.